Tuesday, May 6, 2014

ignoring Boko Haram

Una Mullally, writing in the Irish Times yesterday, was exorcised by the (up until then) media silence on the kidnapping of 234 girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram. I don't see why she is so surprised -  the same group has murdered over 12,000 Christian there since February 2012 to near total media silence. 
It is not be an exaggeration to say that Christians living in Northern Nigeria face absolute terror, where daily the price they pay for their faith is the risk of sudden and violent death. That figure of 12,000 comes from the United States' Commission for Religious Rights Freedom; those kinds of numbers equal what would be the entire population of Cobh or Castlebar in the Republic of Ireland; or Limavady or Holywood in Northern Ireland. The numbers are simply staggering. It averages out to just over 650 per month murdered.

The reaction in the West has been little more than token hand-wringing and appeals to the Nigerian government to do a better job of looking after their Christian citizens. It is salutary to compare the level of public attention to the outrages in Nigeria to that received by the oppression meted out in South Africa under Apartheid. The rate of violent death associated with that regime averaged 400 per year, or a total of around 18,000. Northern Nigeria has reached 12,000 Christians murdered in less than two years; in another few months it may well have surpassed the death-toll that it took Apartheid 46 years to reach.

So Ms Mullally shouldn't be surprised that it took a while that the plight of those poor girls to gain traction in the West. After all, those who can't rouse themselves to type a few words about the slaughter of thousands are bound to be slow to interest themselves in the kidnapping of a few hundred.  

(note: part of this post is based on the article The Suffering Church that I wrote for the Church of Ireland Gazette, and which was reprinted in Position Papers.)

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